Health and Science
January 1, 1975
Today is a good day to be born. Medical advances are making headlines every day.
Infant mortality has dropped, and the death rate from communicable diseases like measles and diphtheria is almost zero. The age of antibiotics has virtually wiped out tuberculosis. Immunization programs have reduced polio to an unpleasant memory for North Americans. Better sanitation and water treatment have dramatically stemmed the many illnesses.
On the other hand, death rates from "lifestyle" diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are very high, and death rates from cancer are also still climbing. The declining quality of the environment plays a part, as does the reluctance of some Canadians to stop smoking.
Doctors have begun to transplant organs, including the heart, kidney and liver - something that would have seemed like nothing more than science fiction in 1900.
If you can avoid accidents, decline to smoke and pass on that second helping of sour cream, you have every hope of living to a ripe old age.
The astonishing pace of medical advances in the 20th century have made many people just a little cocky. In a few years, the appearance of AIDS , antibiotic- resistant bacteria will wipe the smirks off some faces.
Call it future shock.
Many Canadians alive today have gone from primitive radios and the Model T Ford to colour television, atomic weapons and humans journeying to the moon. That's a lot of change in one lifetime. In fact, there have been more technological advances in the past 75 years than in all the years of human history before them. (So if your grandparents have trouble changing the date on the VCR, cut them some slack, will you...)
Mainframe computers have been around for years, but the first personal computer, the Altair 8800 , is just coming on line with a do-it-yourself computer kit. Handy little gadgets called VCRs are almost ready to go to market.
The skies are getting a little crowded. The Anik communications satellite is in orbit above Earth, allowing for real-time television broadcasts across the nation. It's the first stationary domestic communications satellite in use by any nation. The 100-ton U.S. space station Skylab is keeping it company.
Meanwhile, further out, space probes like Mariner 10 are taking pictures of Venus, Mercury and other planets in the solar system.
Later this year, two university dropouts will found a company called Micro-Soft (the hyphen is later dropped).
Something called the Arpanet has been set up by the American military to maintain communications in the event of a Soviet nuclear strike. Eventually, it will be opened to the public and re-named the Internet .